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Unable to access external hard drive

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December 30, 2010 2:13:13 AM

Hello, I have a 250gb external lacie harddrive attached to my desktop computer running windows xp. Yesterday, the external drive came unplugged from the wall and lost all power. Now when I plug it back in, my windows system doesn't even recognize that a device has been connected. When I attached the external drive to my laptop running debian, it doesn't find the drive either. The drive is making a quiet clicking noise several times a second like the heads are searching to find a "starting place" on the drive. Is there anything I can do to recover the data from this drive?
a c 289 G Storage
December 30, 2010 2:02:53 PM

I can't be accurate without coming over to your office, but

If the drive can't be seen in BIOS (can it?), you don't have much chance of using common data recovery software on it. In increasing order of time

You can try taking out of the external enclosure and attaching it directly to the appropriate type of controller on your motherboard. A slight chance of improving your situation.

You can get better advice from someone else on the forum

If what's on the drive is critical to you, you can scrape up a few thousand dollars and take it to a professional disk recovery lab. I personally spent $1,500 to have a tech spend three days recovering a disk from which I needed three critical files that had been modified since my last backup (they are now mirrored in realtime).

Do backups. Or was that your backup drive?
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December 30, 2010 4:28:48 PM

Thanks for the suggestions. This is my backkup drive, althjough I need to come up with a better backup strategy :-)

There are no obvious screws or any way to open the enclosure, but I will poke arround with it a little more to see if I can connect it directly to the motherboard.

And no the data on it is not so critical that I want to spend lots of money to have it recovered.

Thanks for the answers, and have a great day!
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December 30, 2010 4:50:46 PM

A little further information:

When I plug the drive into my debian system, the following information is added to the /var/log/messages file:

Dec 30 11:36:19 draikes-lap kernel: [ 256.570117] usb 3-2: new low speed USB device using uhci_hcd and address 11
Dec 30 11:36:19 draikes-lap kernel: [ 257.170082] usb 3-2: new low speed USB device using uhci_hcd and address 12
Dec 30 11:36:20 draikes-lap kernel: [ 257.772337] usb 3-2: new low speed USB device using uhci_hcd and address 13
Dec 30 11:36:21 draikes-lap kernel: [ 258.820114] usb 3-2: new low speed USB device using uhci_hcd and address 15
Dec 30 11:36:22 draikes-lap kernel: [ 259.422630] usb 3-2: new low speed USB device using uhci_hcd and address 16
Dec 30 11:36:22 draikes-lap kernel: [ 260.020122] usb 3-2: new low speed USB device using uhci_hcd and address 17
Dec 30 11:36:23 draikes-lap kernel: [ 260.562611] usb 3-2: new low speed USB device using uhci_hcd and address 18
Dec 30 11:36:24 draikes-lap kernel: [ 261.262644] usb 3-2: new low speed USB device using uhci_hcd and address 19
Dec 30 11:36:24 draikes-lap kernel: [ 261.860136] usb 3-2: new low speed USB device using uhci_hcd and address 20
Dec 30 11:36:25 draikes-lap kernel: [ 262.460134] usb 3-2: new low speed USB device using uhci_hcd and address 21
Dec 30 11:36:25 draikes-lap kernel: [ 263.000135] usb 3-2: new low speed USB device using uhci_hcd and address 22
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a c 289 G Storage
December 30, 2010 7:59:57 PM

dnraikes said:
This is my backup drive, although I need to come up with a better backup strategy :-)

There are no obvious screws or any way to open the enclosure, but I will poke arround with it a little more to see if I can connect it directly to the motherboard.


Having a backup drive and doing backups puts you ahead of the pack already. And you know that it is broken. The most lachrymose :cry:  backup failures are when you pull out the media to do a recovery and find that you can't read it. This happened at a place I worked - over a year worth of backups had not been tested and were unreadable.

As for a strategy - after each backup, I make a copy of the backup media. Keep one handy, put the other in (in order of increasing safety) your closet, another room, your parents' house, a bank vault, or Paris.

One thing that I recommend from personal experience: You can buy "removable drive bays" that occupy a 5.25" bay on your PC and let you plug in a bare 3.5" hard drive. Plug it in, back it up, use Safely Remove Hardware to remove it, put it away. I have two bays to make it easier to make copies, but then again I am somewhere between very cautious and paranoid. I use these http://www.kingwin.com/products/cate/mobile/racks/kf_10..., but there are plenty of good ones on the market. I tend to avoid the external ones: They may be slightly more convenient, but are more susceptible to spills, cable trips, and being knocked off the desk. A good example is this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Let me know the exact model of the drive - I may know someone who has opened one. The plastic ones usually have snap connectors. Plastic or metal can be opened with a Dremel tool if you are careful :kaola:  . (Just to be on the safe side, no, I do not recommend using a power tool to open the case.)

Debian is not my field - I can't say anything about that log.

Happy New Year!
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January 3, 2011 8:22:29 PM

Hi all,

Sorry my computer has been offline since friday.

I was able to pop open the external drive case extract the drive and borrow the connectors from my dvd drive in my desktop to connect it to the motherboard. After a reboot, I was able to read the drive nd extract the data I needed.

I did notice that while there are bays for more drives in the desktop, there are no extra sata or power connectors anywhere in the case, so I can't simply mount the drive permanently as a secondary hdd in the case.

Is there any way arround this problem?
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a c 289 G Storage
January 4, 2011 12:25:29 PM

dnraikes said:
I was able to pop open the external drive case extract the drive and borrow the connectors from my dvd drive in my desktop to connect it to the motherboard. After a reboot, I was able to read the drive nd extract the data I needed.

I did notice that while there are bays for more drives in the desktop, there are no extra sata or power connectors anywhere in the case, so I can't simply mount the drive permanently as a secondary hdd in the case.

Is there any way arround this problem?


Good that you have your data back.

I can't comment on available connectors unless you let me know what motherboard (or prebuilt system) you have, and what drives are already connected. From your post, it sounds like you have exactly two SATA connectors on the mobo, one attached to the DVD drive and one to the system drive. This would be pretty unusual.

Bad news: If there are really no more drive connectors, you can't attach more drives to the mobo. You could always buy an inexpensive controller card, though.

Good news: Even if there are no more power connectors, you can always do this
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
or this
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002N2EHVQ/ref=pd_lpo_...

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January 4, 2011 3:13:39 PM

I decided to go the external drive dock route for now. I purchased a kingwin external 2-bay drive dock with usb connector.

Since this is a company-owned dell computer, I kind of hate to dig arround inside of it too much and feel better about just going the external route.

Thanks for the suggestions though.

I also purchased a 1tb sata drive that I will install in my personal desktop and pull the 250gb drive from there and put it plus the one from the external drive into the drive dock and use them for backup drives.

I have been searching for some good backup software then remembered that since I already have Nero, i can use the BackItUp tool to do a full/incremental backup of my critical folders.

I will start looking into mirroring my drives soon as well.
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April 25, 2011 10:48:25 AM

hii

I faced silmilar situation, the external hard drive used in the system are sometimes not accessible because they gets damaged because of many reasons like power failure, file system corruption, hardware malfunctioning etc. Corruption or damaging of external hard drives used makes the data stored on them inaccessible.
In the case if backup of the data is not available, Lacie drive recovery software helps to recover lost data.
All the best!
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